(Edited from an article by by Tina Quiring in the The Projector, October 6, 1986)
He still stands 17 feet tall outside the CARSI building at what used to be the south entrance of Red River Community College. Almost 16 years old in 1986, he was well built and certainly commanded attention. But students’ reactions to his presence were mixed. “I think he’s sexy”, “He looks stupid”, “It’s looks like a little bit of culture at RRCC, but he doesn’t look like he belongs here. Maybe he would look better in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.” He, in fact, was The Surveyor. A statue created by George Smith, then head of the masonry and brick laying shop.
Constructed entirely of scrap metal, the statue took Smith 13 months to make. All the work was done in the college’s welding shop. It was erected on the grounds, piece by piece, onto granite slabs by mid-November of 1970.
Smith says the statue was built because of his own initiative.
“One day I got a tremendous idea. Since the whole building is square, I thought the college needed something rectangular – something out of the ordinary.”
The statue represented both sides of the college. A book held high in the right hand symbolized the academic side, while a surveyor’s rod in the other hand depicted the practical side. But Smith said the statue should be taken from all points of view to get a different perspective of it each time.
Originally from Stratfordon-Avon, the Englishman came to Canada in 1955 in search of a “better life”. Before coming to RRCC in 1963, Smith worked for a time at the Manitoba Technical Institute.
Although the statue was Smith’s first creative attempt with scrap metal, he has since completed a brick logo which hangs on the wall of the RCMP barracks in Regina. Smith said his hobby was “an off-shoot” of the masonry trade he had taught for 20 years.
Smith said he had not received any recognition from the college for his effort. But with a smile, he shrugged and said, “The statue is my way of keeping immortal. People will always look at it and wonder who built that silly thing.”